So, you finally got that dream job you’ve been pining for in the big city, and you’re off to start a new life in a major metropolis! You managed to find an apartment online on short notice, and you’ve loaded all of your belongings into a small truck, ready for anything.
All of that pent-up excitement can plummet in a heartbeat the second you step inside your new, big-city apartment. Turns out the word “efficiency” meant something completely different than you thought.
If you’ve grown accustomed to spacious living arrangements, making the move to a small apartment in a large city can require some major adjustments. The first of these adjustments will be managing to fit your possessions into your new, smaller living quarters. Here are ten space-saving tips that will help you add some serious square footage to your cozy new apartment:
1. Armless Chairs
You’re going to need a few places to sit in your new digs, but there’s no reason the chairs you buy for your new apartment need to have arms. Keeping chairs with arms in a small, cramped apartment can make it feel all the more cramped. Instead, look for chairs that don’t have arms, such as stools or folding chairs. Replacing traditional armed chairs with armless seating options can make your apartment seem much roomier.
2. Lean Wardrobe
Most of us own at least piece of clothing that we have never worn. We probably have no practical intention of actually wearing it in the future either. Parting with non-essential items of clothing, including gifts and items we just never felt comfortable wearing anywhere other than in front of the bedroom mirror, can be extremely difficult. Cutting out the clutter in an overstocked wardrobe can be the difference between fitting all of your clothes into a single, compact closet or having to invest in a dresser or armoire that occupies a large amount of floor space.
Owning a few pieces of versatile, high-quality clothing is better than having a closet full of garbage that you don’t feel comfortable wearing in public. Try to identify items that fit well, are easily mixed and matched, and are well manufactured. Keep those clothing items and toss the rest, including items that are falling apart or that no longer fit properly.
Shoes seem to multiply like rabbits when left to their own devices. For some, shoes are an essential fashion accessory that shall not be eliminated from the wardrobe at any cost. For others, shoes are a bit less sacred, and some careful consideration applied to your overstocked shoe collection can help you dramatically decrease the amount of shoe storage space you need. Maybe now is the time to finally get rid of those three old pairs of running shoes you haven’t had the heart to throw away yet. Keep what you wear, and wear what you keep.
3. Foldable Furniture
Folding chairs are excellent space savers for apartments without a lot of floor space. Most of them don’t have bulky arms (see Tip #1), plus there are plenty of stylish folding chairs available if you keep your eyes peeled. You don’t have to limit your seating options to those uncomfortable metal chairs you sat in during high school assemblies. Keeping folding chairs underneath a bed, in a closet, or behind a door whenever you’re not using them can make your apartment feel much more spacious.
Your seating isn’t the only thing you can fold away when it’s not in use. Consider installing a foldable table onto your apartment’s wall as well. Foldable tables work especially well for cramped kitchens, and they can be useful in just about any room where additional table space is needed.
4. Stackable Kitchenware
One day you may want an elegant kitchen stocked with ornate utensils and hand-crafted flatware. If you’re living in an efficiency apartment in New York City, today is not that day. Instead, invest in plates, cups, and bowls that can easily be stacked to maximize storage capacity.
Be sure to invest in stackable cookware as well. Several nested sets of measuring cups/spoons and mixing bowls have been developed for the space savvy. Stackable kitchenware can save tons of kitchen storage space, leaving you more room to store the important stuff, like actual food.
5. Wall Shelves
Every empty wall in your new efficiency apartment is a potential storage space if you choose your shelving appropriately. Pre-fabricated shelving and wall storage units are available in most home improvement and department stores. Some have even been designed to increase the storage capacity of so-called “trouble spots,” such as narrow corners.
In an older building with lots of nooks and crannies that aren’t conducive to prefab shelving? Be creative! Pick up some supplies at your local hardware and build your own shelves using appropriately cut planks of wood. Many hardware stores that offer flat wooden planks will also be able to cut them to size for you. Some may do it for free, and some may charge a small fee. Grab some stain or spray paint and your sense of creativity and get to work creating custom shelving units for your new apartment.
6. Reach for the Sky
Small apartments tend to be short on floor space, but they may offer a wealth of unused space over your head. Don’t limit your wall shelving to eye level and below. Installing shelves up towards your apartment’s ceiling can multiply your storage space exponentially. Ceiling-level storage is great for items that you don’t use frequently but aren’t willing to part with just yet. If you’re on the shorter side, you should also invest in a small, foldable stepladder that you can use to access your newly created elevated storage spaces.
7. Hanging Shelves
Once you’ve filled your walls with shelves, try taking a discerning look at the doorways you have available. Over-door storage shelves and racks are available from several retailers, and these types of storage units can be used to hold items such as shoes, hats, and other accessories.
Hanging shelves are also useful in the bathroom, particularly in cramped showers. Hanging a shelf from your showerhead can give you a place to store tons of toiletries. This can be essential in tiny bathrooms that lack shelf or closet space.
8. Under-shelf Lighting
Rather than wasting precious surface space on lamps, install lighting underneath wall shelves and other overhanging surfaces. Under-shelf lighting is particularly useful in kitchens, studies, and bedrooms. By strategically replacing floor and surface lamps with under-shelf lighting, you can dramatically increase the amount of empty surface space available in your apartment, increasing the perceived sense of spaciousness.
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9. Multi-purpose Furniture
When space is at a premium, taking advantage of multi-function furniture items can free up some much-needed space. Your kitchen table can double as your work desk. Futons can be couches and beds. Maybe you thought your futon days were over the minute you received your college diploma. Instead, you should remind yourself that having both a sofa and a bed in your apartment is better than having only one or the other. Force your furniture to multi-task.
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10. Hang it on the Wall
You’ve maximized your wall space with as many shelves as you can fit comfortably. What now?
Strategically placed hooks and nails!
Hooks are especially useful in the kitchen, where many utensils have been designed with holes specifically for hanging. Consider placing some larger hooks by your door for coats and some smaller hooks for keys. Love your guitar but hate that space-hogging stand you have for it? Hang it on the wall! Be creative, and look for as many wall-hanging opportunities as possible to maximize floor space.